Press Release

Four Hospitals Honored for Commitment to Quality

Four U.S. hospitals were recognized today for their leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment to patient care.  The 2008 American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize® was awarded to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Mich., which will receive $75,000.  Munson Medical Center, a regional referral hospital serving patients from 24 counties, was selected by a multi-disciplinary committee of health care quality and patient safety experts based on its culture of quality and efforts to achieve the Institute of Medicine's six quality aims for health care.  University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers in Ann Arbor was honored as the finalist and will receive $12,500.  Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. and Saint Vincent Health Center in Erie, Pa. received Citations of Merit.

The American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize is presented annually to honor leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment in patient care. The prize is supported by grants from the McKesson Foundation and McKesson Corporation.  The criteria for the 2008 award include the demonstration of an organizational commitment to achieving the Institute of Medicine's six quality aims - safety, patient-centeredness, effectiveness, efficiency, timeliness and equity.  One goal of the award is to honor organizations that are making progress in  quality improvement on all six aims and that offer models that can be replicated by others in the hospital field.  Relevant learnings and key elements for achieving progress that have stood out among the current and past honorees include recognizing that organizational leadership is critical, that what is measured is what gets attention and that patient and family involvement is integral to quality improvement.

"Each hospital recognized today has taken a slightly different path in its efforts to improve quality and patient care," said Rich Umbdenstock, AHA President and CEO.  "But each has successfully created a new culture - one based on trust, understanding and openness.  That culture is absolutely essential in the continuous process of change that is necessary to ensuring that care is always the safest and of the highest quality it can possibly be."

"We're pleased to have the opportunity to recognize and support the important efforts hospitals across the nation are making to improve patient safety," said John H. Hammergren, Chairman and CEO of McKesson Corporation.  "We hope the Quest for Quality Prize will help encourage health care institutions to more quickly adopt the Institute of Medicine's six quality aims."

Prize Winner: Munson Medical Center - Traverse City, Mich.
Improving quality of care is central to Munson Medical Center's culture and mission.  The 391-bed hospital is dedicated to creating an environment in which all employees - physicians, nurses, technicians, hospital board members and administrators - are engaged in safety and quality improvement. 

  • A team of caregivers and hospital leaders sets the quality improvement agenda for the entire organization and works to ensure all hospital staff are taking the right steps to follow the plan.  When a mistake has been made, or could have been made, the quality improvement team thoroughly examines the incident and shares information with caregivers on how to improve care and avoid such incidents in the future.
  • Nurses and physicians play a critical role in improving quality and Munson Medical Center has sought out their expertise in developing patient safety initiatives.  While most physicians at Munson have independent practices, the hospital has developed good working relationships with the independent physicians, involving them in all facets of the hospital's quality improvement efforts.  The nursing staff is equally engaged and each nursing unit is charged with evaluating and improving nursing care.
  • Additionally, Munson Medical Center reached out to its community members for their input when the hospital was in the process of designing several new facilities.  A new emergency department and breast health center both reflect community concerns about privacy, timeliness of test results and location.  Munson Medical Center has seen patient satisfaction increase, encouraging the hospital and staff to always work to do better for their patients.   

Finalist: University of Michigan Health System - Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Center's long-standing commitment to safety and quality improvement is reflected throughout the organization.  The academic medical center's entire staff is engaged in the care improvement process due to a culture of safety that pervades the medical center.  The organization, which is part of the University of Michigan Health System, is dedicated to providing the highest quality care, training future caregivers and performing innovative research that can lead to medical breakthroughs. 

  • Hospital leaders participate in "patient safety rounds" each month to listen to caregivers' concerns and ideas for improving care and then report back to staff what steps are being taken to address their questions and ideas.  This is particularly noteworthy in a large, busy academic medical center.
  • While the medical center develops an overall quality improvement program, each individual hospital unit develops their action plan to reach their improvement goals.  By not using a "cookie-cutter" approach, front-line caregivers who know their hospital unit best are empowered to take the steps they feel are necessary to provide the best care possible to their patients. 

Citation of Merit: Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center - Sioux Falls, S.D.
Improving performance is embedded in the culture at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.  Since 2004, the 490-bed tertiary hospital has worked to improve and streamline care so patients receive care in a more timely way.  The quality improvement initiatives underway at Avera McKennan reflect the responsibility they feel to their patients and community. 

  • Each department works with hospital leadership to develop and put in place one yearly project to improve quality.  Avera McKennan's focus is not just on individual hospital units.  They also educate staff to help them understand how all of the hospital departments interact, providing a holistic view of care throughout the entire organization.
  • Avera McKennan recently opened a new 110-bed behavioral health center, reinforcing their commitment to providing care for critical, but often stigmatized and neglected, health needs.  The hospital hopes to take that stigma away and is actively engaged in research studying the impact of the environment on individuals with genetic psychiatric disorders.  The behavioral health center's laudable goal - heading off mental illness before it ever develops - could potentially impact not just health care, but also education and the criminal justice system. 

Citation of Merit: Saint Vincent Health Center - Erie, Pa.
Saint Vincent Health Center's determination to create a culture of safety is paying off through improved patient care and satisfaction.  Members of the Saint Vincent Safety Committee began to infuse patient safety into the culture of the 435-bed tertiary care center by educating hospital leadership about performance improvement.  They then reached out to caregivers in individual hospital departments.  Each department at Saint Vincent Health Center creates its own quality improvement projects, posting their progress in the halls for staff, patients and visitors to view.

  • By streamlining care processes, Saint Vincent Health Center has seen a decrease in patient readmission rates for certain conditions and patient services are provided in a more timely manner.  Additionally, an upcoming information technology upgrade will enhance patient safety efforts at the hospital. 
  • Focusing on the overall health needs of each individual patient is the cornerstone of Saint Vincent Health Center's efforts to provide coordinated, evidence-based care.  Case managers oversee individual patients' care to ensure they receive the right care in the right place at the right time. 

For more information on the award, including the 2009 Call for Nominations and award application, visit the Quest for Quality Web site at

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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